Jason highlighted a number of reasons why he believes Christians should not vote for Trump, but the three most significant reasons are because a vote for Trump (1) is pragmatic rather than principled, (2) forfeits our credibility as Christians, and (3) manifests fear and a failure to trust God. While I appreciate my friend Jason taking the time to explain why he thinks Christians should not vote for Trump, I find his arguments misguided, naïve, and circular in nature; therefore, his arguments are unconvincing and should not sway how you vote on November 8.
First, is it true that a vote for Trump is pragmatic rather than principled? For some people that is undoubtedly the case. They are simply voting for Trump because they think he can manage the economy better, provide safer borders, eliminate ISIS, or improve healthcare, and they couldn’t care less about his character or any principles. However, one cannot assume that this is true of every Trump voter.
I am voting for Trump, and I am voting for him based on biblical principles. First, I believe when we vote for candidates, we need to examine what the Bible says the governing authorities ought to do. Romans 13:1-5 makes this clear: they are to punish the wicked and reward the righteous. If you read the Democrat party platform, you will quickly notice that they are committed to violating this principle as a matter of policy. The GOP platform, while certainly not perfect, generally seeks to uphold this principle. Trump himself has said that he wants to reward those who obey the laws and punish those who do not. He also has committed himself to changing unjust laws, such as Obamacare, and appointing justices to the Supreme Court who will overturn unjust rulings such as Roe v. Wade. Simply based on this one passage, any student of Scripture should see that Clinton and Trump, whatever each of their moral failings (and they are great), are not equal. When it comes to fulfilling the functions of government, Trump is a biblical choice based Romans 13, as are the rest of the GOP candidates down the ticket.
Jason further argues that to vote for Trump is to violate biblical principle because of Trump’s character flaws (which, admittedly, are not few or minor). However, is there perhaps a greater principle at stake than Trump’s character? What about the principle of saving life rather than destroying it? Christians must seriously ask the question, “Is Trump’s character so deplorable I am willing to help Clinton win the presidency and expand the legality and practice of abortion?” In Luke 6:9 Jesus asked a powerful question to those who condemned Him for violating biblical principle (keeping the Sabbath) to heal someone: “I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to destroy it?” Christian, in the voting booth is it lawful to save life or to destroy it? If you do not vote for Trump, you are for all practical purposes destroying life. True, your finger isn’t pulling the trigger, but you certainly have done nothing to stop the gunman.
Jason decries situational ethics, but isn’t that what Jesus practiced when healing on the Sabbath? Didn’t Jesus condone situational ethics when He condoned David’s men eating the showbread, which was not lawful for them to eat, in order to spare their lives from Saul and his murderous band? Why did God allow these seeming violations of His Law and even approve of them? Because to see them as violations is to miss the point of biblical principle, which always makes life the priority when the choice is keeping a lesser law and saving someone’s life.
Saving the lives of the unborn from the horrors of abortion is not a pragmatic exercise; it is a biblical principle. The argument of pragmatism in this case simply fails the biblical test.
Second, do we lose credibility as Christians if we vote for Trump, as Jason asserts? Jason’s argument about our credibility misses three key points. First, we must ask, credibility in the eyes of whom? It is here where arguments about credibility become tricky because credibility is in the eye of the beholder. What one person thinks will undermine credibility might establish it in the mind of another. In fact, by arguing in this way, Jason has actually fallen prey to his own critique because this reasoning is the essence of a pragmatic argument. He essentially insists voting for Trump will have a long-term, negative, practical impact on our moral credibility, and so we should not vote Trump. His argument is entirely practical in nature at this point because credibility is not based on principle but on someone’s opinion of us.
Second, how can we have any credibility if we are violating biblical principle by allowing an extreme abortionist into the White House? Anyone who is worried she might lose credibility by voting for Trump needs to understand that she will also lose credibility in the eyes of many Christians by not voting for Trump. Pro-life rhetoric loses credibility from people who do nothing to stop Clinton from winning.
And third, our credibility does not stem from ourselves but from the Word of God. As a pastor, I preach against sin every Sunday. I also sin thousands of times every week. The credibility of my message does not come from me but from the one who was sinless, the one who died and rose again, the one who gave us the gospel, which itself is the power of God unto salvation. While we seek to live godly lives to adorn the gospel of Christ, we must never claim that our message is credible because of our lives. As Michael Horton has said on The White Horse Inn, any unbeliever who watches us long enough will find reason to reject our message based on our behavior. Our credibility is Christ.
Finally, a vote for Trump does not necessarily manifest fear of suffering and a failure of faith. While some Christians might vote for Trump because they are afraid of persecution, certainly not all Christians are motivated that way. In fact, to vote for any candidate to avoid persecution is a fool’s errand because 2 Timothy 3:12 says all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted no matter who is in authority.
This argument could easily be flipped back on Jason. I could argue that he should vote for Trump in faith that God will protect his credibility, so he shouldn’t be afraid of what men might think. God is sovereign after all, and even if Jason votes for Trump, none of God’s elect will be lost. The argument just does not work that voting for Trump manifests unbelief without undercutting Jason’s argument as well. It is self-defeating.
What does manifest faith, however, is upholding the moral priority of life even in the face of impossible odds and dreadful circumstances. How do we know? Because James 2:25 puts the prostitute Rahab (talk about some serious character flaws!) next to Abraham because of her faith. What did she do in faith? She lied. That’s right. She lied to the Jericho police who were seeking to kill the spies from Israel. She lied to save their lives. And her lie, which in most cases would have been considered a sin, was considered an act of faith because she did it to save others’ lives.
Christian, act in faith. Vote for Trump to save others’ lives.